The key details of Mercedes’ W14 F1 upgrade

Mercedes’ much-vaunted Formula 1 upgrade has arrived in Monaco, with the team ditching its zero-pod solution in favor of a design closer to its rivals.

As expected, the new design draws inspiration from other solutions we’ve seen used up and down the grid. However, there is clearly a delineation in its design profile to fit it into the core design principles of the W14.

This was made even more difficult when we consider the implications posed by cost caps and resource restrictions.

In the past, teams may have considered a complete redesign and manufacture of spec B.

This is no longer an option however, so there will always be a considerable trade-off when moving to a new concept, as not everything can be optimally placed.

Technical detail Mercedes W14

Photo by: George Piola

In this regard, there is one major feature of the zero pod design that has been retained as part of the redesign.

This is because the fairing of the side impact spar (SIS) was kept before the assembly of the main pontoon. Moving it indoors is not possible without the homologation of a new chassis, which means the team had to incorporate the fairing into the sidepod revisions.

The fin mounted under and on the outer end of the SIS shroud was also retained but modified to better suit the required flow characteristics.

The SIS fairing itself is positioned to help direct airflow to the intake, which has been widened but is also shallower to create a more traditional undercut underneath.

Next, the undercut is smoothed out to a flatter surface profile, which is akin to the outgoing design of this section, albeit married to the new wash down ramp style pontoon top.

Technical detail Mercedes W14

Photo by: George Piola

This top surface of the pontoon also retains some commonalities with its predecessor, as an interchangeable louvered cooling panel resides on the top surface, allowing heat to be rejected based on circuit characteristics and the chosen panel.

The wash ramp down to the pontoon also features the waterslide approach we’ve seen in others, with Mercedes’ preferred design more comparable to the design of Alpine or McLaren rather than Aston Martin, in due to the height that has been allowed for the ramp section as it tapers towards the rear of the car.

Mercedes W14 front suspension comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

The updates introduced by Mercedes go far beyond the sidepods, with the changes to the front suspension perhaps even more intriguing, given that they will have both aerodynamic and mechanical consequences.

This is the main reason the team has been prepared to run the gauntlet of introducing a large update package to the narrow, barrier-lined streets of Monte Carlo, as one element of its package will not provide the performance he seeks without the other.

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The main change is to the upper wishbone leading arm, as the inner end now finds a home in the highest possible position on the front corner of the chassis, rather than a few inches below.

This will obviously have implications for how the suspension behaves in certain modes, dive being the most important. This will not only help mechanically but also aerodynamically.

The change in the position of the head arm also led the team to pay close attention to the topology of the fairing, with part of it facing the oncoming airflow in order to better manage its behavior by next (red arrow).

While what we’ve seen of the update package is already relatively extensive, there’s likely still more to come, with a new floor also on the cards to take advantage of the other changes.

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